Dear LiL – any tips on transitioning from private practice to in-house counsel or back? Signed ~ Hoping to Take a Leap
Dear Hoping to Take a Leap:
Speaking from personal experience, I had mixed feelings about leaving private practice to go in-house in 2009. While I was excited about new opportunities and (with a then toddler and a preschooler at home) the promise of a better work life balance, I felt I was giving up on private practice and the traditional path towards partnership. Like many, I think I had a healthy dose of impostor syndrome in not fully recognizing my value as a lawyer beyond billable hours and attracting new clients.
I worked in-house for 2 years. I thoroughly enjoyed this time and particularly being challenged to solve problems outside of “lawyer-mode”. I gained valuable experience while lending expertise to ensure that legal processes and principles were being followed. But I missed my colleagues. I missed the one-on-one contact with personal clients. And I missed working with other lawyers. My children would fall asleep in their macaroni and cheese listening to my husband, who also practices in professional regulation, and I talk about procedural fairness and natural justice because I didn’t have the opportunity to do this at work.
I am extraordinarily lucky to have developed great mentorship and friendships in my career that helped me with my decision to move from and back to private practice. I would say it is possible to succeed in the profession without mentors but having them makes practice so much easier. So I sought counsel and listened to their advice.
I returned to private practice in 2011. I benefitted enormously from having left and come back as I now had a better understanding of other perspectives. Being able to foresee and appreciate this allows me to be more flexible and creative in my approach which I think makes me a better lawyer